Monday, January 26, 2009

Pike Brewing and the quest for the gentle pint

Pike BrewingI last visited Seattle, Washington in 1996, attending the Craft Brewers Conference.

One of the highlights was going to the Pike Place Brewery next to the famous Pike Place Market. I was surprised that such good beers and renown had come from such a small brewery, a four-barrel brewhouse. And impressed.

Now known as Pike Brewing Company, the brewery will celebrate its 20th birthday in October. RealBeer has the story.

In the early 1990s, Fal Allen and Dick Cantwell were brewers for Pike. For Brewing Techniques Magazine, they and fellow brewer Kevin Forhan wrote a brief but seminal treatise on producing cask ale in the US. Some of the information might be a bit dated, but the opening paragraph could well have been written today.

Producing authentic versions of traditional beer styles poses a complex challenge to small American brewers. Equipment limitations, availability of appropriate raw materials, and lack of awareness on the parts of both publican and consumer present distinct challenges. After learning to deal realistically with the boundaries drawn by these three and spending time experimenting, we feel that we have achieved a successful balance.

Beer from Stainless: Producing Traditional British Cask Beers in America
Pike Place brewers tell the story of their quest for the gentle pint.
Dick Cantwell, Fal Allen, and Kevin Forhan

There's an especially informative section on priming and conditioning. For a brewery interested in learning about brewing cask ale, this article could be an introductory primer.
  • Dick Cantwell is now owner of Elysian Brewing. Andy Crouch recently interviewed him.
  • Fal Allen moved on to Anderson Valley Brewing, and now is the brewmaster for Archipelago Brewing in Singapore.
  • Brewing Techniques is a marvelous resource for brewers. It is no longer published, but has an on-line presence maintained by

1 comment:

  1. I visited Seattle for the first time in November and stopped by Pike Brewing on my first night in town. After splitting a flight with a friend I had a couple pints of the Kilt Lifter. It went really well with the Reuben I ordered. Their Double Stout wasn't half bad but the Scotch Ale was my favorite.


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